The Recipe of the Week from the Happy Chef: Accidently Planned Best Ever Lasagna

By Leigh Sackett

Sometimes you get things right. Cooking is like painting, there are moments when you create something you did not expect, just on a whim, and it actually surprises you and makes you think, “How did that happen?” Other times you plan things out and work real hard on a meal (or painting) and it doesn’t live up to your expectations. I suppose if life always lived up to our limited expectations and we were never surprised by beautiful creations whether it be art, lasagna, or the breathtaking mountains of Grayson County, life would be pretty dull. Sure things would go along merrily, as planned, but I think our hearts would long for a great surprise. Sometimes the surprises of life can be tragic, like losing a loved one, sometimes they seem to make no sense and you might wonder if there is any order to it all. Then a friend tries to explain to you how big outer-space REALLY IS – how it would take a beam of a light 400 thousand years to reach just the center of our Galaxy and that there are billions of Galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away from one another!!! That makes you remember that birth, life, death, art, lasagna, mountains and space are not haphazard accidents. I am glad to know that I am not in charge and I am grateful that my heart finds it all wonderfully surprising and amazing. Well I have been told that this is the BEST lasagna ever. It is a Happy Chef original that I stumbled into creating one day. It is EASY and great for the busy start of a school-year. It does have some perfect combinations – all the right ingredients to make a wonderful surprise; it is in line with the Cosmos!

1 lb ground beef

2  jars of Classico Vodka sauce

12 lasagna noodles

3 cup cottage cheese

4 cup mozzarella cheese

4-6 tomatoes (sliced)

About 30 fresh basil leaves

Salt and pepper

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-Brown ground beef in large skillet, season with salt and pepper

-Cook lasagna noodles

-Stir in 1 jar of Vodka sauce, let simmer and blend with beef for 10-15 minutes

-Spread ½ cup of meat mixture in bottom of 13×9 baking dish

-Layer 4 lasagna noodles on bottom of dish

-spread 1 ½ cup of cottage cheese on noodles

-Layer 1 ½ cup of mozzarella on cottage cheese

-Spread half of meat sauce mixture on cheese

-Layer tomato slices over sauce, season tomatoes with salt and pepper

-Place about 8-10 basil leaves on top of tomatoes

-Repeat layers beginning with 4 noodles on top of tomato basil layer

-After layers are repeated place last 4 noodles on top

-Layer with tomatoes (salt & pepper), basil, 1 cup of mozzarella, open 2nd vodka sauce jar and pour 2 cups of vodka sauce over the top

-Cover loosely with Aluminum foil, bake for 45 minutes

-Uncover bake for 20 more minutes

-Let stand for 10 minutes